Monday, August 5, 2013

Little Mouse

Little Mouse by William 74
Little Mouse, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Launched in 1937, Fiat's original 500, the "Topolino" (Italian for "Little Mouse") was just about the smallest car you could build and still call a car. Powered by a sub-600cc four pot motor, the Topo put Italy on wheels, and remained in production in one form or another until the 50's. This is the classic earlier "Type A" style, which despite it's diminutive size was still an elegantly styled car. Well, until you chopped the body off and put it on an altered wheelbase drag chassis with a big V-8 sticking out the top.

That's one thing they don't talk about in the Fiat history books-the Topolino's racing history here in the States. Along with old American Bantam roadsters and English Ford Anglias, the Topo was a popular Altered and Gas class drag racer, due entirely to it's tiny size, which combined a low weight with a small frontal area to make a nice racing platform. Though plenty of genuine cars were chopped up, many of the Toplino Altereds were made with fiberglass replica bodies, like this mid sixties example.

Fun fact-you can still buy 'glass Topolino bodies today.

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